The door for candidate registration in the presidential election opens on Thursday and closes on 14 October. Till now, four candidates have secured the endorsements needed to guarantee a place on the ballot, reports Gamal Essam El-Din.
President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, who got thousands of endorsements from MPs and ordinary citizens, is expected to be the first to submit his candidacy application to the National Election Authority.
Al-Sisi will seek a third term in office after he announced Monday night his candidacy for December’s presidential election. “I have decided to nominate myself to you to use the new presidential term to complete achieving our dreams,” the president said on the final day of the “Story of a Homeland” conference, a three-day conference in the new capital dedicated to a review of his achievements in office.
Abdel-Sanad Yamama, head of Al-Wafd Party, which has 25 members in the House of Representatives, was able to collect 22 endorsements from MPs. Yamama has announced that his campaign, under the slogan Egyptians prepare for the future, will focus on offering greater political and economic freedoms.
Hazem Omar of the People’s Republican Party (PRP), which has 50 members in the House of Representatives, secured 44 endorsements. Omar says his election programme will focus on doubling agricultural and industrial production to meet local needs and reduce import bills.
Farid Zahran, head of the opposition Egyptian Social Democratic Party, which has just seven members in the House of Representatives, won the endorsement of 28 MPs, the minimum needed to stand. Zahran held a press conference on Tuesday night to announce the details of his presidential election campaign.
“Zahran managed the required endorsements thanks to support from MPs affiliated with leftist and liberal opposition political parties like Al-Adl (Justice), Tagammu, and Reform and Development,” said MP Maha Abdel-Nasser, deputy chairman of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.
Gamila Ismail, chair of the Dostour (Constitution) Party, and Ahmed Tantawi, a former MP and former head of the Karama Party, have declared their intention to run but are struggling to obtain the necessary endorsements. Candidates need the support of 20 MPs or 25,000 eligible voters across at least 15 governorates.
Ismail and Tantawi complain that their supporters have been subjected to harassment and intimidation at notary offices, compromising their ability to collect endorsements.
Tantawi, a critic of President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s policies, claimed in a video that out of hundreds of his supporters in the governorates of Alexandria and Kafr El-Sheikh, only nine were able to register endorsements.
Ismail says she is doing her best to convince independent and opposition MPs to endorse her and “it will be good for Egypt to have a female presidential candidate for the first time.”
Following complaints about the endorsement process, the National Elections Authority (NEA) announced on Sunday that notary offices will extend their working hours.
“Employees will be required to work beyond their regular hours and help all citizens who arrive before the designated closing time,” the NEA said in a statement. It added that “technical problems which hit some notary offices have been solved”.
President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s decision to run for a third term in office came after one week of serious preparations. In recent days, hundreds of MPs, the majority affiliated to pro-government parties such as Mostaqbal Watan and Homat Watan, have gathered in the House of Representatives’ Pharaonic Hall to endorse Al-Sisi’s bid to seek a third six-year presidential term and move the country forward on the road of development, stability and democracy.
Ahmed Manaa, House of Representatives secretary-general, said in a statement that MPs can endorse candidates in line with Article 142 of the constitution which sets out the minimum eligibility criteria of 20 MPs, or 25,000 registered voters from across 15 governorates.
Informed sources say President Al-Sisi already has the support of more than 200 MPs. The house’s two deputy speakers – Mohamed Abul-Enein and Ahmed Saadeddin – are among those who have signed pro-Sisi endorsements.
Mostaqbal Watan and Homat Watan have also launched campaigns in support of the president. Hundreds of citizens have gathered in front of notary offices to submit endorsements and the two pro-government parties will organise nationwide public rallies in support of the incumbent.
Political analyst Amr Hashem Rabie told Al-Ahram Weekly that “from what we have seen over the last few days, President Al-Sisi may well obtain ten times the minimum number of endorsements required from citizens and MPs.”
Nonetheless, Rabie continued, “for the ballot to be competitive and fair, and not to repeat the 2018 presidential election when Al-Sisi faced one challenger, the head of the pro-government Al-Ghad Party Moussa Mustafa Moussa, the presidential campaigns of candidates must receive fair coverage from the media and their supporters must not face intimidation or harassment.”
Egyptians will go to the polls in December to elect a president for a six-year term. Polls will be open at home on 10-12 December while expats will vote on 1-3 December. The results will be announced on 18 December, with a run-off in 8-10 January in Egypt, and from 5-7 January abroad, if there is no decisive winner.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 5 October, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly